Mercedes-EQ Team

Mercedes-EQ Formula E Driver Nyck de Vries Talks Race Strategy

Mercedes-EQ Formula E Driver Nyck de Vries Talks Race Strategy

To spectators, Formula E racing may look straight forward. The drivers take their positions on the grid and race until someone is crowned the winner. Yet, there is another side to the sport that spectators don’t see, and that is racing strategy. Drivers and their teams conduct countless hours of research ahead of each event, and deploy specific tactics during the race in order to secure the highest possible finish. 

To give you insight into how the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team creates a strategy for each race, we caught up with Nyck de Vries – one of the team drivers. Nyck is currently second in the ABB Formula E World Championship standings with 57 points, having secured first-place finishes in Round 1 at the Diriyah E-Prix and Round 5 in Valencia. 

Nyck de Vries and a member of the Mercedes EQ Formula E strategy team

Q1. Do you approach each race with the same strategy, or does it depend on the circuit?

Heading into each race, our strategy is always shaped by our position on the grid. This is what makes preparing for a Formula E race so difficult, as our grid position is determined during the qualifying rounds, which take place on the day before a race. The drivers with the fastest laps secure the higher positions on the grid. This creates more work for our Strategy Team, as they have to work separately with myself and Stoffel and prepare two different approaches to the race. 

If we are at the front of the grid, a lot of our preparation goes into defending our position. This involves researching the overtaking opportunities on each track, as well as the other drivers’ techniques. On the other hand, if we are near the back of the grid, we adopt a much more aggressive approach.

Nyck de Vries and the Mercedes EQ Formula E strategy team

Q2. How do you prepare a strategy for a new track?

One of the key differences is that we don’t have access to historical data. This data can be useful as it helps us to understand where the overtaking opportunities are, how to approach each of the turns, and which of the drivers perform best on that track. 

Other than that, we prepare for each race in the same way. Stoffel and I spend two days in the simulator to get a feel for the track, while conversing with our engineers and the Strategy Team to prepare for every possible scenario that could arise.

Q3. What role do FANBOOST and ATTACK MODE play in the formation of a race strategy?

FANBOOST and ATTACK MODE are exciting elements of racing that are unique to Formula E. It adds another layer of strategy to the mix, as using them at incorrect times could be costly. 

Only five drivers receive a FANBOOST per race, and it is only until 15 minutes prior to the start of the race that we learn who will receive it. This presents obvious challenges when preparing a strategy, but it can be a nice, unexpected boost before each race. It could be the difference in finishing first and second, as it can help drivers overtake or defend their positions. Therefore, timing is crucial as you never know when a driver may rely on their boost.

The Mercedes EQ Silver Arrow 02 formula e car

Any driver can obtain ATTACK MODE when they pass through the Activation Zone. If a driver starts at the back of the grid, it can be used to make up positions during the race. Alternatively, if you are near the front, the boost can be used to consolidate your position. However, passing through the Activation Zone can be risky, as it is situated slightly off the track and may force a driver to give up their current position. This means it is nearly impossible to prepare a strategy in advance – it requires initiative and quick thinking.

For more insights into the world of Formula E, the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team and our drivers, visit our Blog for more articles. 

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Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team

Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team

Writer and expert